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Multi-criteria evaluation of service-based new business concepts to increase energy efficiency in compressed air systems

: Weißfloch, Ute; Mattes, Katharina; Schröter, Marcus

Flemish Institute for Technological Research:
I-SUP 2010, 2nd International Conference on Innovation for Sustainable Production 2010. Proceedings : Bruges 18-21 April 2010; Conference 1. Sustainable Production
Mol: VITO - Flemish Institute for Technological Research, 2010
International Conference on Innovation for Sustainable Production (I-SUP) <2, 2010, Bruges>
Conference Paper
Fraunhofer ISI ()

Compressed air systems are characterized by high energy consumption. Particularly in industrialized countries, the share of industrial electricity consumption due to compressed air usage in relatively large. Therefore, possibilities to reduce the consumption are welcome. One possible solution is to offer service-based new business concepts, changing from traditional buyer-supplier relationships to service-focused relationships with new deliveries and payment structures. As the service personnel may have more profound know-how about the system than the end-users, it is possible to save energy while producing the same output.
The right configurations of the business concepts have to be determined. Among others, the questions "who owns the equipment, whose personnel runs and maintains the equipment and which payment procedures are applied?" must be clarified. Different business concepts are possible, whereby the decision to offer a certain business concept is made by the provider and therefore based on his perceptions. When trying to choose the "right" business concept, the decision-making process is influenced by several criteria. Besides profit, energy consumption plays a key role when defining the pros and cons of a specific business concept, as corporate policies are increasingly focused on sustainability. Chances and risks which may arise from the cooperation also affect the decision, e.g. additional skills needed by the service provider. Because of these various decision criteria it is not easy for decision makers to choose the right option. Up to now, no instruments exists which supports such a decision.
This paper presents a multi-criteria decision support tool based on PROMETHEE, which was developed to compare different compressed air supply solutions. Beside economic criteria, ecological, social and technical criteria are also taken into account in the analysis. The traditional business concept - acquisition and use of the system by the end-user - is compared with different contracting models for compressed air provided either by a compressor manufacturer or a compressor manufacturer and an energy supplier in cooperation. Results are based on expert estimations which reflect real life operations.